Fishing Lessons from the Old Timers
By Jed NInefeldt
Have you ever been at your favorite fishing hole and seen the same guy day after day fishing in the same spot? At the landing you try to make small talk and you’ll get two types of fisherman. One will say, “Yeah I caught a few, nothing of any size though” or the second “I caught 50 walleyes tonight and for the last couple of nights.” All fishermen like to brag, but be wary of the second guy who claims he caught 50. If it was true, everybody and their brother would be fishing there.
The first guy is who you want to pay attention too because he’s catching fish and good fish. His habits will even change if he perceives that he’s being watched or followed. As you slowly troll by, try to get a better look at what he’s doing. Look at the depth finder, hoping to hook into whatever he’s catching. Try to figure out what’s down there and what this guy is fishing for. This guy has seen you coming a mile away and gently forces you away from the spot to either protect the location or move on to another.
You’re probably thinking I’m crazy at this point, but I assure you that I’m completely sane. Two old timers on the lake, Osterude and Ed Manny, outside of Barnum, where I grew up, taught me this secret. As a kid, somewhere in the range of seven to 12 years old, I would flat out ask them where to fish, or what to use for bait. Inevitably, I would get the same answer every time…try that point or that weed bed over there. I had seen them fishing many times and neither one of them ever fished there. Likewise, the bait was always the same, night crawlers.
Since they wouldn’t tell me, and I was getting older, I figured I would watch the old timers from a distance. At first the old timers would be fishing at a spot with me watching from a hundred yards or so away. Once they vacated the spot, I would slide over in my 16 foot boat with my 1966 Johnson 5 ½ hp. I would do this once or twice in the evening, but got the distinct feeling that the old timers were purposely fishing in places there were no fish just to see if I was following them.
Even following the old timers, at times fishing in their honey holes, I couldn’t buy a bite. However, it did allow me to experiment with different lures and techniques. Now, I can look at a lake map, and have a good idea where to start, still knowing that’s no guarantee to finding fish. The other interesting thing is I now find myself behaving like the “old timers”. If you see me at a landing at the end of the day, I won’t be bragging. I’ll just say I caught a few and quietly load up and go. Now, I don’t show people where to fish except for my fishing partner, my 2 ½ year old daughter. Truth be told, there is no magic spot, but its technique and presentation that get fish.